Psalms | Jesus Christ, the apple tree, and me

This week I (Alison) am on leave. So here’s a little something from the archives on how we might relate to country. Perhaps it will inspire you to reflect and write something for our 2023 Lent Book, which will be a collection of prayers and readings rooted in the land.

While we were away with our sister church a couple years ago, Phil went for a walk. When he came back, Uncle Den wandered up for a chat: “I saw you come back from a bit of a walkabout just now.” “Yep,” said Phil, and he told Uncle Den how much he loves being outside by himself, and how he finds peace and rejuvenation there. Uncle Den asked him, “So do you talk to the birds that you see? Do you stop to listen to what they might wanna say to you? How ‘bout the trees? They’re always talking; do you listen to them, too?” Continue reading “Psalms | Jesus Christ, the apple tree, and me”

Isaiah | Peace and plenty for everyone

This week I (Alison) am on leave. So heres a little something from the archives relating to the local landscape. Perhaps it will inspire you to reflect and write something for our 2023 Lent Book, which will be a collection of prayers and readings rooted in the land.

Twenty years ago, Cudgee was a depleted paddock. Now, it’s an oasis. Families have built sustainable homes and are raising their children there. People have planted countless Indigenous trees, grasses, and shrubs. The creek is overhung by eucalypts; blocks are lined with wildlife corridors; koalas grunt and roam. There are organic gardens and orchards; happy chooks; contented ducks; an Indigenous plant nursery; and the best garlic in Victoria. Continue reading “Isaiah | Peace and plenty for everyone”

Luke | Want to encounter God? Get lost!

It is precisely when we are lost that God seeks us out. (Listen.)

When I first preached on this text at Sanctuary, I began with a story. It went like this: So Joshua was at the pub, eating and drinking and talking with whoever turned up. There were gay folk and trans folk and very complicated families. There were women who loved work more than children, and who liked nothing more after work than a drink with their friends. There were sex workers and drug addicts; blokes fresh out of prison; evangelical atheists; and people who had been burned by the church. All these and more were crowding around and listening to what Joshua had to say. Continue reading “Luke | Want to encounter God? Get lost!”

Luke | In the face of climate catastrophe, seek signs of the kingdom

Jesus says, ‘Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom-culture of God is near.’ (Luke 21:29-31)

What are ‘these things’ of which Jesus speaks? Well, he has just detailed them in the previous verses: earthquakes, famines, plagues, invading armies, the roaring of the ocean, terrible suffering, and people ‘fainting from fear and foreboding’. Once, these words referred to the brutal repression by the Romans of the Jewish Revolts, using cosmic imagery to allude to forces of violence and empire; now, as the living Word continues to speak into our lives, we might hear them as also referring to climate catastrophe and all that comes with it. Continue reading “Luke | In the face of climate catastrophe, seek signs of the kingdom”

Deuteronomy | In the face of climate catastrophe, choose life

The news is devastating, but we still have choices: so choose life. (Listen.)

This week, as cataclysmic floods pour across Pakistan, destroying farms, roads, towns and infrastructure and displacing over 30 million people; as unprecedented heatwaves and wildfires continue to threaten much of Europe; as long-term drought impacts water security for millions of people in the southwest United States; as we brace ourselves for the likelihood of another La Niña cycle and further devastating floods; as we learn that the catastrophic bushfires along the Great Dividing Range burned six metres deep in places, rendering regrowth impossible, the most famous words of Moses’ most famous sermon should ring loud and clear. Continue reading “Deuteronomy | In the face of climate catastrophe, choose life”

Luke | Disabled and poor people are primary at God’s table

Disabled and poor people aren’t optional extras to God’s table, but primary participants. (Listen.)

It’s been more than twenty years since my mother died. As most of you know, she had multiple sclerosis. First it disrupted her balance, so she had to walk with a cane. Then it caused paraplegia, so she rolled around in a wheelchair. Gradually, the paralysis crept up her spine; she became quadriplegic. So she graduated into an electric wheelchair which someone else steered for her. Then she began losing hearing and vision; then finally the strength and mobility to inflate her lungs and breathe. She died quite literally crippled, lame and blind. Continue reading “Luke | Disabled and poor people are primary at God’s table”

Luke | But I thought it was all about peace!

The paradox of God’s peace. (Listen.)

‘Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth?’ asks Jesus. Well, yes, I do. When he was born, angels sang that there would be peace among those in whom God delights: so it seems reasonable to think he brings peace. But in tonight’s reading, he says ‘No!’ In tonight’s reading, Jesus says that he brings fire to the earth, he brings division, and that households will be torn apart. So, were the angels wrong? Did Jesus really come in order to wield fire and destruction, to generate conflict, to destroy relationship? Continue reading “Luke | But I thought it was all about peace!”

Luke | All the loneliness money can buy

Wealth buys us distance from other people: but it comes at a cost. (Listen.)

What can money buy? There are the obvious things, of course. The big house, the nice car, the Rolex. The overseas holiday. The designer dog. But what money really buys these days is distance from other people: large swathes of uninterrupted life. Large house blocks, where you cannot hear or see the neighbours. Private cars, for quiet, independent transport. Restaurants with plenty of space between the tables. Gated apartment buildings, entry by swipe key only. Noise-cancelling headphones, for when you can’t avoid the masses. A device per person, so every member of a household can stare into their own screen, alone. Continue reading “Luke | All the loneliness money can buy”

Hosea | Gomer, the face of God

God is not seen in a violent man, but in a woman known for her love. (Listen.)

Like so many women, I know what it is to receive unwanted attention and even assault. The comments about my breasts in primary school and, later, the wolf whistles; the propositions. The unsought gawkings and strokings and gropings. The encounters where consent was murky at best. And given what so many of my sisters have experienced, I consider myself one of the lucky ones. Continue reading “Hosea | Gomer, the face of God”

Luke | Martha Made Whole

Inviting Christ into your dwelling means being renovated from the inside out. (Listen, or watch on YouTube.)

A newcomer was sitting with a circle of women as they reflected on the sermon after the service. Suddenly she said, ‘Wow! I’ve never seen THAT before!’ I asked her what she noticed. She gestured to the men heating food and setting the table for our common meal. ‘Everywhere else, men talk and women serve,’ she said. ‘Not here,’ I replied. ‘Here, people take turns. And if you stay for the meal, you might see men doing the dishes afterwards!’ Continue reading “Luke | Martha Made Whole”

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